University leaders will assemble an emergency meeting next week to start the search for a new president after James Ammons, the president since 2007, abruptly resigned Wednesday.
Ammons had vowed a month ago to remain at his job, despite a no-confidence vote from trustees in June.
“This is unexpected, this is unanticipated,” said Rufus Montgomery, a FAMU board member who had expressed doubts about Ammons’ job performance.
Meanwhile, the famed Marching 100 band remains suspended for the coming year. And the university is dealing with a deficit in its athletic program, which has traditionally relied on the band to help draw large crowds to football games.
In October, 11 students will head to trial on charges related to the death of Robert Champion. The 26-year-old was fatally beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel following a football game against the school’s archrival.
Montgomery and other trustees agreed late Wednesday to hold the emergency meeting to discuss finding a replacement for Ammons and the specific terms of his resignation. Even though Ammons’ contract allows him to stay on the job 90 days, some board members said they still want to discuss how active a role he will play at the school.
Ammons, in a letter to the chairman of the university’s governing board, said he plans to exercise a provision in his contract that allows him to remain at the school as a member of the faculty.
An alumnus and former top administrator of the school, Ammons was first hired five years ago to help steady FAMU in the wake of financial woes and threats to its accreditation.
But Champion’s death on Nov. 19 put a spotlight on a hazing culture that he and other top FAMU officials had been unable to eradicate.